Behavioral Medicine Research Center

NIH NHLBI T32 Institutional Research Training Grant - (2T32 HL007426-35-40)

Behavioral Medicine Research in Cardiovascular Diseases

Faculty Investigators: Neil Schneiderman, PhD (Principal Investigator); Martin Bilsker, MD; Olveen Carrasquillo, MD, MPH; Dalton Dietrich, PhD; Hermes Florez, MD, MPH, PhD; Marc Gellman, PhD; Ronald Goldberg, MD; Monica Webb Hooper, PhD; Barry Hurwitz, PhD; David Lee, PhD; Maria Llabre, PhD; Philip McCabe, PhD; Armando Mendez, PhD; Robert Myerburg, MD; Leopoldo Raij, MD; Tatjana Rundek, MD, PhD; Patrice Saab, PhD; Ralph Sacco, MD, MS; Jose Szapocznik, PhD; Angela Szeto, PhD and Julia Zaias, DVM, PhD

This T32 pre- and post-doctoral research training grant was originally funded by the NIH NHLBI in 1979 and has continued funding through June 2019. The supervised research conducted by trainees involves examining the biological, behavioral and social processes that influence cardiovascular diseases as well as procedures that may prevent or ameliorate such diseases in high risk populations. From a public health perspective our research is particularly important because it focuses upon poor people, health disparities and understudied groups including Spanish speaking individuals who are not fluent in English. Since 1979 the training grant program has consistently developed trainees who have gone to have distinguished academic careers characterized by extramurally funded interdisciplinary research.

The purpose of the training grant program has been to provide systematic multidisciplinary predoctoral and postdoctoral research training into the biobehavioral and psychosocial factors involved in the pathogenesis and treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD) as well as the prevention of such disease in high risk populations. Research training is also offered for study of neural, hormonal and immunological mechanisms that may link biobehavioral variables to cardiovascular pathology. The framework for this research is cardiovascular behavioral medicine, which involves the integration of population-based public health studies, clinical investigation and basic science. In the present iteration of our cardiovascular behavioral medicine training program, trainee research is based upon: (a) population-based studies such as the NHLBI multi-center Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL); (b) clinical investigation in multiple NIH funded intervention studies to prevent cardiometabolic risk and CVD (e.g., smoking cessation; reduction of CVD risk in management of Type 2 diabetes); and (c) basic research as in our NIH funded projects studying social environment, hyperlipidemia, inflammation, oxidative stress and atherosclerosis in the Watanabe rabbit. Most of our training grant activities are coordinated within the University of Miami Behavioral Medicine Research Center (BMRC), which is a multi-disciplinary unit involving faculty from the departments of Epidemiology, Medicine, Neurological Surgery, Neurology, Pathology and Psychology. Most of the BMRC faculty have conducted research together for more than 20 years on NHLBI funded P01, R01, U01 and N01 projects. The NHLBI training grant program has been intimately associated with these projects; trainees have been involved in the design, conduct and publication in various aspects of this research as well as designing and carrying out separate studies derived from the parent projects. Trainees in the program consist of 5 predoctoral and 2 postdoctoral fellows who are expected to spend at least two years in the program. Although emphasis at both the pre- and post-doctoral level is upon research, available didactic training includes multiple courses in advanced statistics as well as epidemiology, behavioral medicine, mechanisms of disease, neuroscience and molecular biology. Trainees usually undergo rotations through our BMRC cores in Biochemistry and Metabolism, Cardiovascular Measurement, Data Management and Statistics and Pathology. All trainees receive individual mentoring and participate in research seminars, project meetings and BMRC/Training Grant meetings. They are also strongly urged to take grant writing courses offered through the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) as well as through departmental courses.

Specific Aims

The major goals of this NIH NHLBI T32 Institutional Research Training Grant are to: (1) train Fellows in multi-disciplinary cardiovascular biobehavioral research; (2) provide professional research training in laboratory procedures, quantitative techniques and scientific writing skills; (3) mentor trainees in developing high quality research portfolios; (4) recruit, retain and facilitate the careers of minority individuals; and (5) provide research training that leads to quality job placement and successful research careers for former trainees.

  1. Multidisciplinary Research. This traiing grant provides pre- and post-doctoral research training into the biobehavioral, psychosocial and sociocultural factors involved in the pathogenesis, increased risk, prevention and behavioral treatment of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). In the present iteration of our cardiovascular behavioral medicine training program, trainee research is based upon: (a) population-based studies as the NHLBI multi-center Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL); (b) clinical investigation in multiple NIH funded intervention studies to prevent cardiometabolic risk and CVD (e.g., smoking cessation; reduction of CVD risk in management of Type 2 diabetes); and (c) basic research as in our NIH funded projects studying social environment, hyperlipidemia, inflammation, oxidative stress and atherosclerosis in the Watanabe rabbit.
  2. Professional Research Training. All trainees receive mentoring by their faculty supervisor to assure that they obtain needed training in laboratory procedures as appropriate (e.g., bioassays: Armando Mendez, Angela Szeto; echocardiography: Barry Hurwitz; pathology: Julia Zaias), quantitative techniques (e.g., Maria Llabre) and scientific writing skills (e.g., Mary Lou King).
  3. Mentor Trainees in Developing Research Portfolio. As has been the case for many years all of our trainees are expected to participate in at least one major conference per year and by submitting an Abstract and to participate in mentored journal writing throughout their training program.
  4. Recruit, Retain and Facilitate the Careers of Minority Individuals. Both post doctoral Fellows are minority individuals (1 Black woman; 1 Hispanic male). Of 5 predoctoral trainees all are women. Two of the women are Hispanic, 2 are Asian and 1 is Non-Hispanic White.
  5. Job Placements and Research Centers. This training program has been continually funded since 1979 and has been successful in placing trainees in academic research positions where they have developed extramurally funded resource programs.